You may already know the importance of regular preventive maintenance for your semi-truck or trailer, but what about the tires that keep you rolling in the first place? Choosing the right tires is a top priority, but maintaining them after purchase is just as essential. When you invest the time and resources into keeping tires in good condition, they’ll reward you with lower fuel costs, and properly inflated tires can reduce risk of truck breakdowns. Read on for tips on getting the most out of your tires.
Recommended Tire Pressure for TrucksSimply keeping your tires properly inflated goes a long way toward giving you a longer service life, better fuel efficiency, and a lower risk of traffic mishaps. But what is the right tire pressure? Here are a few points to consider.
- Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Individual tires have different minimum and maximum tire pressure ranges, so check your manufacturer’s load and inflation tables.
- How much weight are you hauling? Tire loads also determine the optimum pressure. Inflate your tires to accommodate the maximum load size you’ll be transporting.
- Should you go slightly over or under the minimum? Running tires at the high end of your recommended range may help you maintain pressure between checks and guard against underinflation as the tire naturally leaks. It may also give you lower rolling resistance, which can help with efficiency. On the other end of the scale, slightly softer tires may be more flexible and more easily absorb impacts from debris and potholes.
- Avoid overinflation or underinflation. While inflating slightly above or below may offer some benefits, too much of a good thing will hurt you. Too much or too little pressure can lead to premature, irregular wear, structural failure, and a greater risk of blowouts.
Other Maintenance Tips for Semi Truck TiresBesides keeping tabs on tire pressure, here are a few more smart, simple habits for maintaining your tires.
- Check for irregular wear. Improper inflation, misalignment, failure to rotate, and out-of-balance tires can all cause uneven wear.
- Invest in a tire rotation. A tire’s position on your truck affects its wear pattern. Front or steer tires tend to wear on the shoulders, drive tires wear in the center and rear tires wear more quickly. Regular tire rotation gives you more even wear.
- Maintain correct alignment. Poor alignment causes tires to wear out more quickly, leading to higher replacement costs.
- Keep tires balanced. Proper mounting is key for maintaining the correct balance. Regular rebalancing extends the life of steer tires in particular.
- Watch your inside tires. Paying a little attention to these easy-to-ignore positions can pay off. Wash tires regularly to keep them free of mud and debris, and avoid aggressive driving maneuvers such as sudden stops and starts.
- Consider retreading. You can minimize the cost of new tires by investing in quality retreads, combined with a proactive maintenance plan.
- Watch your costs. Use analytic systems to calculate cost-per-mile for individual tires, and keep detailed records, so you’ll know when the cost to maintain outstrips the cost of purchasing new tires.